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The Subdoshas of Digestion


by Sheyna Haisman-Holmes


Most of us are familiar with the three main doshas of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each of these doshas have 5 subdoshas that represent each of the 5 elements. Of these 15 subdoshas, there are three with a correlating fire element that are responsible for digestion. Theses subdoshas are kledaka kapha, samana vayu and pachaka pitta. Each of these subdoshic fires has different functions that contribute to overall digestion, absorption and assimilation. When dealing with digestive disharmony, we can look to these subdoshas to see which main dosha may be aggravated and how we can help to pacify the vitiation.


Kledaka Kapha-

-Location: Stomach, protective lining of the GI tract, digestive secretions

-Certain foods can destroy this protective membrane, but it regenerates every 72 hours. Like hot water cooking rice, kledaka carries fluid, enzymes and heat to break down each molecule of food. From the stomach wall kledaka can enter the plasma and nourish the blood

-Disorders: gastritis, overeating, diabetes, hyperglycemia, high cholesterol, ulcers


Samana Vayu-

-Location: Small intestine, navel

-Direction is linear and outwards

-Creates the feeling of hunger & brings the ingested food deeper down

-Provides stimulus for the secretions of digestive juices and energy to secrete liver enzymes & bile. All movements of these juices and acids are done by samana

-Disorders: lack of appetite, indigestion, bloating, malabsorption


Pachaka Pitta-

-Location: Small intestine, stomach

-Part of the main digestive fire and central Agni

-Hydrochloric acid, digestive enzymes, pepsin, juice from villi of the small intestine

-Digests starch, glucose and fructose

-Disorders: hyperacidity, hypoglycemia, ulcer, indigestion, gastritis, anorexia


Individually, all of these subdoshas are working on digestion, absorption and assimilation through gastric secretions and fire. Its important that we support our digestive system function by keeping the fire stoked to facilitate long term health and nutrition. We can notice if there is blood sugar imbalance, over-acidity, bloating, ulcers or digestive pain and if it is coming from a vata, pitta or kapha imbalance. We can then incorporate practices to create balance by following the principle of “like increases like and opposites balance”.


There are many things we can do to support optimal digestion like not eating too late at night, keeping the belly warm, chewing food thoroughly, not mixing to many liquids with foods, and more. May we all take care of our digestive fires that are the key to longevity and optimal nutrition :)


4/26/23

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